Subject: Last discovered whale

Martine Berube (martine@sbs.bangor.ac.uk)
Wed, 24 Mar 1999 18:08:51 GMT

At 01.58 PM 23-03-1999 -0600, you wrote:
>What is the last type of whale discovered and how big does it get? -
>Megan


Dear Megan,
Here is the article, and its abstract, concerning the last discovery of a
new whale. 
Cheers,
Martine

NEW WHALE FROM THE EOCENE OF PAKISTAN AND THE ORIGIN OF CETACEAN SWIMMING.
GINGERICH PD, RAZA SM, ARIF M, ANWAR M, ZHOU XY. NATURE 368: (6474) 844-847
APR 28 1994
Abstract:
MODERN whales (order Cetacea) are marine mammals that evolved from a
land-mammal ancestor, probably a cursorial Palaeocene-Eocene
mesonychid(1-3). Living whales are streamlined, lack external hind limbs,
and all swim by dorsoventral oscillation of a heavily muscled tail(4,5). A
steamlined rigid body minimizes resistance, while thrust is provided by a
lunate horizontal fluke attached to the tail at a narrow base or pedicle(6).
We describe here a new 46-47-million-year-old archaeocete intermediate
between land mammals and later whales. It has short cervical vertebrae, a
reduced femur, and the flexible sacrum, robust tail and high neural spines
on lumbars and caudals required for dorsoventral oscillation of a heavily
muscled tail. This is the oldest fossil whale described from deep-neritic
shelf deposits, and it shows that tail swimming evolved early in the history
of cetaceans.